At the end of November, Racing On The Sun were awesome enough to bring me along as their tour photographer and capture their journey along the Ascension Tour. I've been working with bands for the last year as i've been working towards becoming a music photographer and especially a tour photographer. I remember being in seventh grade dreaming of going on tour and how much fun I thought it would be cruising around the world with some friends playing shows every night. At the time I didn't think I would be doing it with a camera in my hand though. I'm a nomad. I can't sit around in one place for two long especially when its my office. The great thing about tour is you go to bed in one place and typically wake up in another and that for me is so exciting to start my day like that.
Pre tour we did some promo material.
November 27th I met up with the guys in Fort Collins where we loaded up the van and trailer and were on our way to Salt Lake City, Utah.
I had spent Thanksgiving at my parents and had to drive through a blizzard just to get to FOCO. We left home and imediatly got caught in another blizzard right outside of Colorado. Josh was drivng and at times we couldn't see past the hood of the van and were using the reflectors on the side of the road as our guide. We figured if we could still see those to the side of the van then we were still on the road. We switched drivers at about 2 a.m. and Brian took over driving and I was co-piloting. There were times that we were making our own tracks on the interstate and were just hoping that we were still on the road. Eventually things started to clear up a bit
We made it to Salt Lake. I remember waking up in the bunk as we parked and the van was just sliding towards the curb. Remember the whole waking up in new places thing? Its even better when you just made an awesome tour story and then you wake up. You have to keep things fresh.
We played a venue called the Loading Dock which is an awesome little venue. It's almost all outdoors though and that night the high was 18 degrees so yea it got a little chilly. At one point I got stuck right underneath the heater for about two songs and thought I was going to melt. Gotta do whatever it takes to get the shot. After that I didn't mind the cold too much.
The guys did an interview after the show and then we took off for California. We got about 3 hours before we realized the van was smoking and we pulled over for the night. The next day we had van problems again and realized that the repair they thought they got on their last tour didn't actually fix the problem. We would stop every few hours to let it cool down and then just decided to make the non stop haul to Cali since Oscar had some family that we were staying with out there that he thought could help out.
While we were in Cali we stayed his aunts house which consisted of eating lots of amazing Mexican food and checking some of the cool spots in Cali while we waited for the van to get repaired. We did a photo shoot in L.A. next to some light poles and visited the beach.
This was my first time in Cali so everything was exciting for me since I had never seen much of the west coast before. Also my first time on the beach on the west coast which was a surreal experience. We timed it just right to where we got there right at sunset and I have to say thats not a bad way to be introduced. After a few days the van was fixed and we finally had a show day in San Diego.
First thing in San Diego was to hit the beach so we went straight to Coronado. I jumped in the ocean for the first time and just took in the views for a while.
Lestats was a cool venue with a coffee shop on the other side and we even got free coffee so I got some work done and took a few photos before load in.
The show was fun and it was exciting to start shooting more since the last few days had been mostly getting the van fixed.
Afterwards we went and got some authentic Mexican food down the street at a little taco shop and then headed back to the house. We got back around 4 a.m. (I drove this one) and we all fell right asleep. Josh and I slept in the bunks in the van (a testament to how comfortable those bunks were) since space was getting limited in the living room.
The next day was Long Beach. I think we just slept and hung out till we left for the venue. Brian replaced some drum heads and we cleaned/re organized a lot of gear since after this show we were headed to Arizona and a few straight nights of shows.
We played DiPiazzias with Canto. Lots of family came out to that show so it was a really fun one. The opening band was some 16/17 year old kids that killed it. Caset Culture I think their name was? Was fun watching lots of new bands.
We loaded out and had a Club Dub (my name for Wal-Mart) party and then took off for Tuscon.
If we weren't being hosted then most days started outside of a Planet Fitness. Memberships = showers and showers = life on the road. I set my can of Ravioli on the roof of the van and let it warm up while I took a shower. Hit up Wal Mart for some supplies and a quick lunch.
Then a daily Starbucks trip for a few hours to get work done and upload photos and then we went to the venue. It was called Garys Place and it was a house that was converted into a venue. It seemed a little sketchy at first but turned into one of the more fun venues since the vibe was just right. This was also the first show that we didn't have any major issues with the lighting or any of the guitar rigs since we were able to load in early and have everything set up and get a real sound check.
Lots of cool photos from that show.
We stayed with our buddy Matt who was an awesome host and watched a movie that night then a few the next day.
Lots of people ask me like, "Oh you were in such and such city what did you guys go do?" and typically we would find a Starbucks and work or just lay around and try to rest for a while and relax and watch movies. Tour is exhausting and if you get a chance to just lay around for a day we would almost always take it. You never know when you're going to be able to relax again and if you keep trying to always go out and about you will wear yourself down so much faster and then tour becomes a lot less fun. But i'm not one who likes sitting around and not getting out so there were a few times when I started to go a little crazy from that and ended up doing some dishes and pacing around the apartment haha.
After Tucson we played Nogales. Was a smaller venue so I was able to get up close to the guys and worked on a some close ups.
The thing about touring with a band vs. shooting different bands every night for a magazine or once a month is you have a lot of time to work on a lot of different shots. So some nights I would work on getting a really awesome wide shot and other would be close ups or I would know that at this part of this song this person does something cool so I would plan the show out and wait in certain spots for one shot. Because of that I can really get the shots that I think are my best work. Plus since I'm living with the band I am able to become really close and comfortable with them so they start to notice me less and less while taking photos and I get more natural candid shots which is what I am always going for. I also get more access to different areas of venues that I wouldn't normally get. At certain venues if you have a photo pass you can go anywhere, and other venues a photo pass only gets you in the pit or restricted areas. So having that All Access pass from the band lets me go everywhere and get shots specifically for them that others can't get. In my opinion its the best way to go about shooting bands.
I drove from Nogales to New Mexico. We left at around 2 a.m. and I drove through the sunrise in the AZ/NM mountains while jamming Explosions In The Sky. It was one of the first moments I was able to be alone with my self and think about what was actually happening. It was a surreal moment when it finally hit me that I was driving the tour van through the mountains.
We made it to Gallup, New Mexico and met up with Cody Waybenais. He's an awesome human/sound guy. We played a venue called Juggernaut Music. Its a music store and studio and as you walk through the back it turns into an awesome venue. It was one of the bigger venues we played on this tour and since we were headlining we were able to get in a little early to load in and get everything set up and make sure there weren't going to be any problems with things.
It was a fun show. The venue was big and the lighting looked good. Josh broke a string and I had to run around and try to find some string cutters and couldn't find the tool box and freaked out for a second, then I realized I was in a music shop and just asked for some. The guys sounded really great and huge that night due to the venue. There was even a barrier so I could stay upfront and move around a lot more. Plus I was able to get behind Bryan's kit for the first time on tour.
We loaded out and then went to Codys for a fire and to hang out.
We had an off day in Gallup the next day. We played a lot of Call of Duty (I think Oscar is still mildy obsessed) and Cody showed us around where he grew up.
Next up was Albuquerque.
We hung out that night and the next day was a show day at The CO-OP in ABQ with Palisades.
I think we were all pretty excited about this one since it was looking to be a bigger show. At the same time after load in you could tell that it was starting to hit everyone that tour was almost over. No one really talks about this feeling but everyone just gets a little bit sad and starts reminiscing on a lot of things. Its a weird vibe and hard to explain. But everyone was still excited to play and make the last night a good one.
A few local bands played after and then Palisades. We loaded out and hit the road for home. Oscar drove and we stopped a little outside of ABQ at got gas and some snacks and I fell asleep sometime after that. Suddenly Fonz woke me up yelling at me that we were in Denver. When I looked up Oscar was still driving and I couldn't figure out how. It honestly took me five minutes to wrap my mind around the fact that we made it home so quick. Oscar drove the whole 8 hours non stop and got us home by 7 the next morning. As exciting as that was, I still couldn't really beilve that it was over. Oscar said goodbye in Denver and the rest of us kept going for FOCO.
I edited photos from the night before and then we unloaded the trailer and parted ways.
I was home for a day and then left again for a few days in FOCO. Shatterproof had a few shows and Racing had one last show in Greeley. So technically tour hadn't ended yet and we still got one hometown show to play. It was fun seeing all the guys again. Even though it was only like a 3 day break it felt like years since we had seen each other. They were opening for Night Riots and the crowd was awesome. One of my favorite shows on tour.
I couldn't begin to put into words how grateful I am for Racing bringing me along on this tour. I didn't want to head home when it was all over. Now that i'm home I can't wait to head back out on the road. It's addicting. It's a constant adventure every day and sometimes you aren't even sure where you are going to wake up but there is nothing like traveling with your best friends and playing/shooting shows every night. I can't wait to see what 2016 has planned for me but I will definitely be looking forward to heading out on the next run.